Chiropractic is an alternative healthcare profession. Alternative healthcare includes alternative approaches to mainstream medicine, often emphasising a holistic view to health.
Chiropractors are concerned with mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially of the spine. The main aim of a chiropractor is to get you mobile again so that you can resume your normal activities.
Chiropractors treat many conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system and nervous system, including back-, neck-, shoulder- and elbow pain.
The main technique used by chiropractors is called manipulation. They use skilled, precise hand movements and manual therapy to manipulate your joints, soft tissues and spine
Chiropractic is generally safe when performed correctly by a trained chiropractor although, in rare cases, spinal manipulations can cause serious problems, such as slipped disc and even stroke.
What to Expect From An Appointment With Your Chiropractor
When you have your first appointment with the chiropractor, they’ll have a discussion with you about your pain and your overall health. The first visit usually takes around 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, they’ll give you a physical exam, which might involve looking at your posture and how your joints move.
As part of this initial visit, your chiropractor will likely use different techniques to help with your pain. They’ll use their hands to gently apply pressure to the muscles, bones, and joints in your spine and neck. You might feel some quick, gentle movements or a gradual adjustment of your joints as well as stretches to your muscles.
Your chiropractor will then come up with a plan for your treatment, including how many sessions they recommend. In the beginning, this often means coming in for a treatment once a week for a few weeks. But if your joint pain is a bit more complicated or keeps coming back, they might suggest a longer treatment plan. Follow-up appointments are usually shorter, around 10 to 30 minutes.
If your chiropractor believes you might need something else to help with your back pain, they’ll talk to you about seeing a doctor or another healthcare professional.
Benefits Of Chiropractic
Adjustments made by a chiropractor can significantly reduce your back and neck pain via non-invasive techniques. The areas of health than may benefit from chiropractic include:
- Blood pressure: Chiropractic adjustment may help to reduce high blood pressure.
- Neck and lower back pain: An adjustment from a chiropractor can significantly reduce your back and neck pain via non-invasive techniques.
- Scoliosis: This condition results in an abnormal curvature of the spine which can cause pain, abnormal posture, and a reduction in your range of motion. Chiropractic treatment combined with physical therapy could help treat and prevent the progression of scoliosis.
- Sciatica: Chiropractic treatment can help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve caused by a damaged or pressured sciatic nerve. This may help reduce the pain that radiates from your lower back down your legs.
- Reduce inflammation: Chiropractic treatment can help reduce pain, muscle tension and inflammation in your joints.
- Headache relief: Both tension and migraine headaches can be caused by spinal issues. Spinal realignment can help ease the muscle tension and pain associated with headaches.
- Improvement in symptoms of neurological conditions: Chiropractic adjustments can help improve the flow cerebral spinal fluid. This can be particularly beneficial for people suffering from neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
- Improved athletic performance: Chiropractic is also often used by sports teams and professional athletes to reduce pain and tension caused by sports.
- Vertigo: A chiropractic adjustment can help treat joints and vertebrae that are not moving correctly which can have a positive effect on vertigo.
Risks Of Chiropractic
Chiropractic is considered safe when performed correctly by a trained and registered chiropractor. It is not uncommon, however, to experience some side-effects after treatment. These symptoms are usually not serious and only last for a short time. Temporary side effects may include aches and pains, stiffness, and discomfort in the area in which you received the treatment.
Serious complications associated with chiropractic adjustments are rare but may include:
- A herniated disk or a worsening of an existing disk herniation.
- Compression of nerves in the lower spinal column.
- A certain type of stroke after neck manipulation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although both disciplines treat and manage pain and stiffness in your body, their approaches are different. A chiropractor focuses more on the diagnosis and treatment of afflictions to the spine, whereas a physiotherapist focusses more on manipulating muscles.
Chiropractic is considered safe when performed correctly by a trained and registered chiropractor. Some people may experience aches, pains, and stiffness after treatment. Rarely, complications can include a slipped disc and stroke.
In the United Kingdom, chiropractic study is at degree level, as an undergraduate degree or above, with most courses lasting four years.